Much has been written about the gender gap in mobile phone usage, specifically on why women are less likely to have access to this technology than men; why women are less likely to be technically literate than men; and why women are less likely to be aware of the many potential benefits of a mobile phone. We recognize that there is a gender gap, as high as 38 percent in South Asia. Within the development community, there is no disagreement that this digital gender divide needs to be addressed in order to drive women’s economic empowerment and ensure a more equitable future. However, there are varying points of view on how to close this gap.
In 2010, around 390,000 children under age 15 became infected with HIV, mainly through mother-to-child transmission. However, with effective interventions, mother-to-child transmission can be virtually eliminated to save the lives of thousands of children every year. One effective, evidence-based intervention is the preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) component of FHI 360’s Zambia Prevention, Care and Treatment Partnership (ZPCT). This USAID-funded program, which ran from 2004–2009 —and was renewed through 2014 as ZPCT II— serves as a model for other countries.
The ZPCT I program increased the percentage of pregnant women in antenatal clinics who accepted HIV tests and received test results from 45 to 99 percent. Among women who tested positive for HIV, the program increased the percentage of women who received a full course of antiretroviral prophylaxis from 29 to 100 percent. Most importantly, observational data from ZPCT sites showed an HIV acquisition rate of 6.5 percent among children ages 0 to 6 weeks where the mother and infant received interventions, compared with 20 percent where no intervention was given to either mother or baby. The fact that this highly effective intervention costs merely US$113–126 per mother makes a compelling case for replicating it in other contexts.
To support program designers who wish to replicate this program, FHI 360 produced Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: Implementation Starter Kit. This starter kit describes and provides access to all programmatic materials and tools (such as training materials and job aids) used by ZPCT and provides basic guidance on replicating effective programs. We hope that such an effective and low-cost intervention will be reproduced in other country contexts and that it will generate the same life-saving results.